The Senate voted 55-43 on Thursday to confirm Anna Gomez to the fifth and vacant seat on the FCC. The vote means an end to the 2-2 party deadlock at the agency. Gomez will also be the first Latina Commissioner the FCC has had since 2001.
Ted Cruz (R-TX) led the opposition to the nomination, saying her confirmation would lead to the passage of “job killing Net Neutrality,” and “in the wrong hands the FCC could go down a dark path of regulatory overreach.”
Cruz cited the agency as “holding 2.5 GHz spectrum licenses hostage” as an example of what he considers to be overreach. [FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has said the Commission doesn’t have the ability to issue those licenses until the agency regains its auction authority.] “A vote for Gomez is a vote for regulating the internet as a public utility,” he said, which would make the internet “more expensive and slower,” said Cruz.
Ed Markey (D-MA) called the FCC “one of the premier agencies in federal government for overseeing wires and radio waves that have become the backbone of our economy.” He encouraged fellow Senators to support her nomination, saying without a fifth Commissioner, “the FCC has been hamstrung.” Indicating he would re-introduce his bill to restore Net Neutrality “in the coming weeks,” Markey noted, “It’s been nearly six years since the Trump FCC repealed Net Neutrality.” He urged a favorable vote “because the FCC must do critical issues.”
Markey also referenced the $7 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund he helped pass during the COVID pandemic. “Those resources are critical. This program will soon be out of money. We can’t let that happen. I know Gomez will be a fierce advocate at the Commission for students,” he said.
Gomez joined the State Department in January to lead preparations for the International Telecommunication Union World Radiocommunication Conference 2023. From 2009 to 2013, she was deputy assistant secretary at NTIA where she led policy on international telecommunications and satellite spectrum, and efforts to expand broadband access. She earlier served for over a decade in various management positions at the FCC, and on the White House staff under President Bill Clinton, according to a biography by NTIA.
Industry praised Gomez’ confirmation. See story below.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief